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People of wisdom are admired; people of wealth are envied; people of power are feared, but only people of character are trusted. Tergiversation . . .

People of wisdom are admired; people of wealth are envied; people of power are feared, but only people of character are trusted.

Tergiversation . . .

Life is a series of disappointments: Betty Crocker isn’t real, sour grapes aren’t; millionaires take social assistance, some senators work, and tergiversation is coming.

In a Hagar the Horrible cartoon awhile ago, a character said, “As your lawyer, allow me to clear up this matter for you … in most cases, the defendant supersedes the pro bono factors unless, and until the plaintiff decides to coagulate the judicial pontification of all parties involved.”

To which Hagar is shown thinking, “I’m SO glad he cleared up that matter for me!”

Tergiversation at work!

A clipping from columnist Philip Howard of the Times accuses writers of ‘hijacking’ specialist terms and using them in a vague way.

“Such bafflegab crutch words are ugly chimneys belching semantic smoke to pollute the atmosphere of understand. If we mock them hard enough, let us hope they become laughing stocks, and eventually die of shame,” he wrote.

Tergiversation at work shuffling, shifting, evading, or if you prefer the dictionary version: 1) evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement; equivocation; 2) desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith.

So if the Blues can get the Reds, Orange, Greens, Blocs, and Turncoats, (since they too are included), to take a stand on a matter of national importance our merry band of 301 bon vivant’s will soon be shufflin’ among us with an encyclopedia of words, facts, and factoids, and promises, oodles of promises.

Promises including, ‘cloud-cuckoo-land,’ buried in vulpine, fustian speeches, filled with cozen wheedlings, aimed at expiating past shenanigans, real or imagined, seeking our favour in the voting booth.

For those about to test their mettle, and ours, knocking on our doors, a few lines from Longfellow, which could be useful to carry on the hustings, since you’ll meet a lot of them:

His brow is wet with honest sweat

He earns whate’er he can

And looks the whole world in the face

For he owns not any man.

Granted, not all citizens will fit that bill, just as we pray Leigh Hunt’s belief that, “the same people who can deny others everything are famous for refusing themselves nothing,” will fit not one of the new 301 MPs we choose. This is not a new plea, since he said that before he died in 1859.

Election campaigns are like cleaning windows. The dirt is always on the other side.

A tip of the hat to daily desk calendars without which I’d have never met tergiversation, or the other elder, seldom used words: vulpine: foxy, crafty; fustian: high flown or affected writing or speech; cozen: to gain by artful coaxing or tricky deception; expiate: to extinguish the guilt incurred by; and cloud-cuckoo-land: whimsical or foolish behaviour.

P.S. So here I am listening, filled with hope, that our Squabble House on the Hill will once more become a House of Decorum and true democratic debate filled with trustworthy people.

Then comes a knot in my knickers of hope reading that Liberal Senate leader Hays has relegated the Gomery crimes to “mischief,” and that our National Capital Commission passed a law in 1967 imposing “six months imprisonment for anyone carrying a torpedo along The Driveway in Ottawa.”

Hope is dashed, I’m ion cloud-cuckoo-land, ready to embrace Brendan Behan’s political leanings: “I have total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Oh well, if an election is thrust upon us, at least it’ll keep us indoors and out of the rain.

As clumsy and convoluted as it is at times, a hearty tip of the hat to democracy! Watching today’s world in action you know Churchill was right: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (House of Commons speech, November 11, 1947)

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